Getting spiked

So we have all seen The Hangover, laughing at the guys’ cluelessness as to their antics the night before, but how funny is it when this confusion becomes your reality? Last week I found myself waking up in my friend’s bed with a brutally sore chest, sandpaper mouth and the one kind of bracelet I don’t want to be surprised with – a hospital identification band.

Knowing nothing of why I had this pain, the bracelet, or frankly why I was in this bed, I looked to the hospital for answers and leads, just like in the film. Calling up A&E was however a dead end, for all the right reasons of protecting patient confidentiality. Ideally, I would have gone to the hospital in person, but this was no hangover. My head was physically fine but the fever and utter daze of confusion I was in, alongside the fact that a mere cough was agony, meant I’d have to play detective from my bed. My memory abruptly ended after a certain drink of the night and I knew I had been to hospital… I concluded that I had been spiked. That was scary enough to realise, but more was to come.

As I lay in bed racking my brain to find some memory within the darkness, I received a Facebook message from a classmate saying they had found me and got me into an ambulance. OK, great, I now knew who to thank, but there were still so many unanswered questions. Why was it them that found me, not anyone from the social I was on? What happened that required the ambulance? When did this happen? Did he have any ideas about my chest pain? And frankly, I wondered why I only had one shoe!

Without going through my every thought and interaction that day, I can tell you the chest pain was a result of needing CPR. This was performed by a kind stranger in the street, who I later found out had been out for their birthday; at least I know they’ll remember it! Spiking is becoming more common and also more varied in terms of what drinks are spiked with. It is suspected that I suffered from serotonin syndrome, likely caused by whatever was in my drink reacting with my SSRI antidepressants.

Thankfully I was found in time to receive help, but what if I hadn’t been? Even those who spike drinks surely aren’t out to make a girl stop breathing and lose her pulse? Obviously this has made me cautious of how I drink when I am out, but my experience raises other concerns.
Depression and drug use are two things that are common among students and yet not openly spoken about. Of course I had no intention of mixing my medication with drugs, but some may do and not realise the significantly higher risk of complications that come from taking drugs such as MDMA alongside antidepressants.

Sure it would be ideal if no one felt the need to do drugs, but that is not reality. Reality is that many do and university is a time where many feel the urge or pressure to experiment with them. In the same way that underage teens can still access contraception without underage sex being advocated, students should have information about these risks highlighted to them when they are prescribed such drugs. This is not presuming that every depressed student does drugs, but empowering them with knowledge to look out for themselves, before getting swept up in a momentary decision which could prove fatal.

Thank you so much to those who helped me, some situations can’t be helped, but education and kindness like theirs is a great place to start.


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June 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

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